Dealing with it the wrong way

There is only one road where I can walk my dog to the local park in London, UK and a man has been beeping his car horn or waving and smiling at me every time he sees me alone.

I don’t know him and I don’t want to know him so I’ve never responded in the 6 months or so he’s been doing it – until recently when he did it twice in one day and actually slowed, leered, waved and said hello. I shouted at him to F… Off in no uncertain terms and that was definitely the wrong way.

He has carried on doing it and now he knows for sure he’s really bothering me; just great. He lives in a cul-de-sac and I can see where he lives with his offending car parked outside – until I shouted at him that is. Now he’s hiding his car in his garage, I wonder why? I am tempted to go knock on his door and say ‘Here I am then, you keep trying to get my attention in the street, now what do you want?’ or ‘Is your wife home? Can I have a word with her?’ I guess these idiots rely on women not having the nerve to do that and they’re right. I hate it – why should we be forced into an unwanted confrontation?

Why does this guy persist when he knows I know where he lives? Why do harassers TRUST us? And nobody else sees it as a big problem so we get no support.

– anonymous

Location: London

[Editor’s note: the author selected the blog title; I don’t think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to deal with harassment, we all must choose what’s best for ourselves in each harassment incident]

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13 Responses to Dealing with it the wrong way

  1. Golden Silence says:

    Please call the police. This guy sounds like a stalker. And no, you didn’t handle it the “wrong” way.

    Sending my support from across the pond!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Golden Silence, I did exactly that yesterday after I wrote this. (Hey, blogging works!)

    We have Community Police here in the UK and I happened to see 2 officers – one was a woman – on my way out walking. I said “Excuse me, can I have your advice please?” and I told them I felt I was being harassed, that I’d sworn at him and he still carried on, what should I do? They were both very supportive and listened to what I had to say, telling me it was a bad idea to confront him again in case it turned into an argument in the street.

    They said they’d have a word with him if I showed them where he lives, which I did. We walked together up the street and I described everything I could. I didn’t have to give my name or make a formal complaint which was a relief. They told me to get in touch with them if he persisted.

    Tonight he did it again, when I was on my way home from the park. But sort of stupidly sneaky – he cruised past me from behind, slowed down and drove on a bit then gave a tiny honk.
    Cooooool. What a stunningly clever guy, eh?

    I thought about it and I don’t see people I do know in the street driving past me very often, maybe once a month. It’s a short street, and here’s this guy driving past me 2 days in a row – tonight after he’s possibly seen me in the park. I do now think stalking is the correct term here.
    I will call those officers back tomorrow.

  3. Alek says:

    On the home page you say:

    “”She may not have the time or inclination to talk right then. Or you may be the third or fourth man to approach her that day – even if done politely this is wearisome and annoying. Don’t be rude if she doesn’t talk to you. You don’t know her personal history or what’s on her mind or her schedule. Be respectful of her as a human.””

    I do feel compassion for women who go through this… but let me share with you the other side of the story. The story about how some men turn bad.

    Most men who end up resorting to this method, end up resorting to it as a way to shield their emotions.

    Most men start out by politely and respectfully trying to meet a woman, and her blowing them off rudely… Now its NOT her fault, she only did that, because she herself had to deal with rude men that day. If a man goes through that about 5-10 times (5-10 different women)… he gives up (unfortunately) on the polite approach forever.

    They start adopting this “macho persona”. If you adopt this macho persona… she’s not rejecting you, she’s just rejecting your approach, you don’t have to take it personally. You’re shielded. The macho persona is nothing by a defense mechanism. I know its not as sexy as patriarchal theory… and I know its not popular to say that men have feelings but…

    That man you’re talking about, in the car? The one you told to F*off. Guess why he’s doing it? Because he’s had it work in the past.

    One of the best selling books for women of all times was (he’s just not into you), a book which tells women they should never be friendly or accepting of a man’s advances (when they like him!!!)… To actually get the man to persist through a bunch of hardcore rejections in order to be seen as “valuable”. Most women’s magazines promote the same idea. To never show interest in a men until you’ve rejected him at least a dozen times.

    Guess what. A lot of these guys have received 20-30 rejections from a woman, before they got together.

    I haven’t seen any street-harassment projects talking about this part. How about all the media that encourage harassment? How about all these societal forces that teach women to condition men into being harassers? There’s this current trend of defining courting as the act of a man chasing a woman through her disinterest. And no one talks about it.

  4. Anonymous – Good for you! That took courage. I’m glad the community police were helpful. I hope you’ll write an update if you contact them tomorrow so we can find out how it went/how you are doing.

    Alek – I agree that there is a lot of socialization going on that makes heterosexual men feel they have to be the aggressive ones trying to get the attention of women and that heterosexual women are socialized to think that “good girls” demure and play hard to get when men pursue them etc. Street harassment won’t end until this type of socialization ends. I’m just starting to explore a lot of the socialization that goes into creating masculinity to better understand this type of behavior. However, I don’t agree that women will reject a man they are interested in multiple times before going out with him just to test him. I do think most women will reject random men on the street because we’ve been socialized to fear random men and to fear stranger rape.

    Do you have any stats or examples to back up your belief that men only start rudely harassing women on the street because their polite tactics failed? And if they’ve failed so many times, why do they keep at it? Also, how does any of this apply to non-heterosexual folks?

    Not all or even most men harass women regularly or at all but most men have gone on dates or been in a relationship so clearly there are other ways to meet and start relationships with women than by hollering at them and acting creepy on the street. Anonymous from this post is dealing with a man who lives on her street and seems to purposely be intent on creeping her out by honking at her and saying things to her when she is out alone. I don’t think there’s any excuse for that type of behavior.

  5. Anon, thanks for the update. I’m so glad you called the police. It sounds like they’re on your side. Keep us posted.

    Most men start out by politely and respectfully trying to meet a woman, and her blowing them off rudely… Now its NOT her fault, she only did that, because she herself had to deal with rude men that day. If a man goes through that about 5-10 times (5-10 different women)… he gives up (unfortunately) on the polite approach forever.

    That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard. You’re blaming the victim for men’s own shortcomings. The only person who can affect one’s behavior is that person himself or herself. So if a man goes from being polite to being a harasser, it’s because of his own insecurities and issues, not because of the women. The men only have control of their own actions and how they want to go about things. That’s not a woman’s concern.

  6. anonymous says:

    So here’s what happened. I called to speak to the Community Police today and I was put through to the regular Police who were very interested to hear what was happening and took down the details again.

    An officer called me back this afternoon and he said he’d get his uniform on and go round there and have a word with him, then call me back.
    He’s just called me now and told me that the honker wasn’t home but his wife was and she confirmed that he had such a car. The officer gave her his card to get the guy to call him about a problem with his conduct in the car.

    So the honker called in and the officer told him that he’d had 3 or 4 reports about him harassing women in the street. Mr Honker couldn’t think what the officer was talking about, said he had problems of his own. Oh really? I laughed when the officer told me that! He also said why would he do something like that in such a distinctive car? How predictable.

    Anyway the final outcome (I hope it’s final) is that the police have told him that they’ve got all his details and they’re now aware of his behaviour and it is bordering on harassment. He hasn’t actually committed a crime in what he’s doing apparently, but if he does it again they will be taking him into the police station to explain his behaviour.

    Alek, I can safely say that I have never ‘got together’ with someone I met while they were driving by me in the street, nor somebody I’ve rejected 20-30 times – once is usually enough – and I doubt many people do get together those ways, so I think your argument is fairly derisive. People choose their own behaviour, magazines don’t do that for them.

    I believe that people who behave like this honker, who are prepared to seek attention at all costs, regardless of multiple rejections and the damage caused to their lives, are commonly referred to as narcissists.

  7. Golden Silence says:

    He’s doing this and he has a wife at home…even worse! I hope she’s embarrassed by his weird behavior.

    Anon, I can’t stop commending you for reporting it to the police and not backing down. I salute you!

  8. ditto to golden silence – way to take control of the situation and report him. i hope he will leave you alone now!!

  9. anonymous says:

    Thank you for the support here, it’s truly appreciated. Writing this blog page was definitely the catalyst to my reporting this madness.

    I guess that finally admitting to myself this was a real problem and I was prepared to seek out support made it all too clear that I needed to get help with it.

    To my amazement I realised that I spoke to 4 police officers in total and every single one of them instantly believed me and regarded it as unacceptable. (Also to my amazement, a while ago I told a woman I see walking her dog about it and she said “You should feel flattered”. Ok, try walking in my shoes and see if you feel flattered.)

    I hope the message to anybody reading this in a similar situation is that even if you start off thinking you’ve dealt with harassment the wrong way, you can still find a lot of people willing to help you find the right way and get it stopped.

  10. Beckie says:

    Wow! I am just now reading this story. Yeah for writing about this. Double yeah for reporting to the police–over and over! I hope your walks are harassment free. I too would never consider a relationship with someone who harassed me on the streets!

  11. anonymous says:

    I just thought I’d let you all know how things have changed for me completely in the past few weeks after calling the police – and I’m hoping it stays this way. I have seen the guy only once and he just drove past like he always should have done – without acknowledging my existence.

    It certainly makes me think I was right to question why I was seeing him so often – this should be a red flag to anyone in a similar situation.

    And now I can walk down the street without even thinking about this – what a relief.

  12. Thank you for the update! I am so glad you can walk down the street in peace now and I hope you always can!!

  13. anonymous says:

    Once again, I’m thankful that this blog exists as I have a great record of what I hoped was long forgotten.

    The honker has started again. Twice now he’s deliberately honked at me as I’m walking my dog to the park. This morning I saw his car coming and turned my back to it (luckily my dog had stopped for a sniff) but he still did his pathetic little honk.

    I gave him the benefit of the doubt the first time he honked again, which was about a month ago (I did write down details then because he’d driven past me without doing it for the whole winter). Today I have enough to go to the police again. Hopefully they’ll have a record of what they said at the time and he’ll be taken for a little visit to the station.

    The honker probably thinks he’s communicating ‘Remember me?’ and I sincerely hope the policeman will say the same thing to him. And maybe this time his wife will learn a bit more about what her scumbag husband is getting up to in her own street.

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